Stateside | Pokemon, Marvel, and Barbie help fuel US toy sales surge as market grows 27 per cent

Published on: 9th June 2021

Major properties including Pokemon, Barbie, Star Wars, and LEGO have contributed to a booming first quarter toy sales in the US that witnessed an increase of 27 per cent between January and April 2021, according to The NPD Group.

Ten of the 11 super categories tracked by the NPD posted double digit growth versus the year prior, contributing to a sales increase totalling $1.5 billion in the first four months of the year.

All super categories posted a positive two year compound annual growth rate, with seven super categories showing double digit growth rates compared to 2019. The market is led by the Outdoor and Sports Toys category, which – having experienced gains of $324 million – continues to be the largest super category, with $1.6 billion in sales.

The Plush market witnessed the fastest dollar growth in the first quarter, surging 44 per cent on 2020 numbers.

“As we lap the lockdowns of 2020, the super categories that had surging growth last year, like Games and Puzzles, appear to be slowing down,” said Juli Lennett, vice president and industry advisor, US Toys, The NPD Group.

“However, it’s important to realize that sales are still strong for Games and Puzzles in 2021 which is reflected in the two-year CAGR growth of 34 per cent, the fastest growth compared to 2019 of all super categories.”

Strategic Trading Cards has been marked among the top growth sectors, driven in large by Pokemon but holding strong across all 96 classes tracked by the NPD.

Pokemon has been highlighted as the top growth property year-to-date, followed by the likes of Barbie, Star Wars, LOL Surprise, Marvel Universe, Hot Wheels, Little Tikes, NERF, LEGO, Star Wars, and Funko Pop.

Collectively, these ten properties grew 48 per cent while the rest of the market grew 22 per cent from January to April 2021.

“We can’t understate the impact that federal stimulus payments had on toy industry performance this year,” said Lennett. “The follow up to that will be the child tax credit which will provide cash in the hands of parents each month starting in July and through the end of the year.”


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